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May 24, 2012 Group Watch: Regular & Special Sessions End

Wednesday, May 16, was the final day of the 2012 regular session. The House joined the Senate in giving final approval to bills making several revisions in Alabama’s immigration law and to raise fees for court cases. They also gave final approval to legislation combining the Department of Industrial Relations and the Department of Labor. They blocked action on a bill that would allow Jefferson County to enact an occupational tax. The Senate joined the House in approving a $1.67 billion General Fund and $5.4 billion education budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  They approved bills to raise the income level where state employees have to file annual financial disclosure statements from $50,000 to $75,000 and to provide $44.5 million to the Department of Corrections to help finish this budget year. The Senate confirmed Brian Christopher Hamilton and Chip Hazelrig, both of Birmingham, as trustees for the University of Montevallo. The Senate also gave final approval to a bill relating to one-call notification for utility contractors.

Governor Robert Bentley called the Legislature into special session on Thursday, May 17, to address reapportionment of themselves, to address revenue measures to insure adequate funding of Medicaid and other General Fund agencies, and to address the Children First appropriations. In the pre-dawn hours on the morning of the sixth day of the special session, the House and Senate gave final approval to bills reapportioning the Legislature, proposing a constitutional amendment to allow the state to issue more bonds to pay incentives to new industries, moving part of the state’s use tax collections from the education budget to the General Fund and approving the allocations of tobacco revenues to Children First agencies. The Children First appropriation includes funding for the state Medicaid agency. Before adjourning, the House praised retiring clerk Greg Pappas and elected Jeff Woodard to replace him.

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